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Backgrounder

As a gift to the people of Ontario to mark the coming Canadian Centennial, the provincial government commissioned architect Raymond Moriyama in 1964 to design the Ontario Science Centre. Five years later, on Sept. 26, 1969, a radio signal over 1.5 billion light years away struck a circuit that raised the curtain at the Science Centre’s official opening. It was one of the world’s first interactive science museums.

The Science Centre has since welcomed more than 50 million visitors for a range of fascinating experiences in science and technology. It is one of Ontario’s most significant cultural attractions, focused on interactivity and hands-on learning for visitors of all ages. The Science Centre is unique in that it conceives, designs and builds its own exhibitions. On the international scene, the Science Centre rents and sells its exhibitions across the globe, helps other Science Centres develop exhibitions, and finally brings the world to its visitors by hosting important travelling exhibitions and awe-inspiring films on its giant screen.

Significant advances took place in the past two decades. The popular indoor TELUS Rain Forest debuted in 1993, before Ontario’s only IMAX® Dome theatre opened in 1996. Last decade, a unique hands-on space for children below the age of eight, called KidSpark, proved so popular it doubled in size by 2005. Meanwhile, the biggest evolution in Science Centre history came via Agents of Change, a $47.5 million transformation completed in 2007. The Science Centre revolutionized its indoor and outdoor spaces, including the creation of an entirely-experimental Weston Family Innovation Centre, an exploration plaza called TELUSCAPE and two permanent art pieces: the FUNtain and Lotic Meander.

A home for technology and innovation, the Science Centre is dedicated to community outreach. Through community access initiatives, free or discounted admission is provided to more than 100,000 visitors a year. Its Adopt-a-Class and Adopt-a-School programs provide further access to young pupils in Toronto’s underserved schools. The annual RBC Innovators’ Ball raises funds for these programs. As well, the Science Centre opens its doors to thousands of people for the annual Community Day celebration.

The Science Centre is not only a museum but a classroom. Each school year, it offers the largest museum-based education program in Canada, with more than 40 curriculum-based school programs each year. The unique Science School draws Grade 12 students from across Ontario to spend a full semester learning hands-on science and technology and science communication.